Friday, January 24, 2014

  • South Sudan Reaches Ceasefire, But Will Nascent State Survive Oil-Fueled Neocolonialism?

    Wecomeasfriends1

    After more than a month of violence that left thousands dead, rivals in South Sudan have reached a ceasefire agreement. The clashes began as a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former vice president, but quickly escalated into ethnic clashes that raised fears of a civil war. We turn to a new documentary that shows how South Sudan has become ground zero for contemporary colonialism in Africa. Director Hubert Sauper’s "We Come as Friends" provides an aerial view of the conflict in Sudan from a shaky, handmade two-seater plane. The film depicts American investors, Chinese oilmen, U.N. officials and Christian missionaries struggling to shape Sudan according to their own visions, while simultaneously applauding the alleged "independence" of the world’s newest state. What emerges is a devastating critique of the consequences of cultural and economic imperialism. We speak with Sauper about the film, which just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

  • We Are the Giant: Bahrain’s Top Family of Activists Pays Heavy Price for Challenging US-Backed Gov’t

    Watg_new.jpg

    Reconciliation talks between Bahrain’s ruling monarchy and opposition groups have resumed amidst a continued crackdown on dissidents. The Bahraini government has waged a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters since an uprising broke out in February 2011. The U.S.-backed monarchy is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, which is responsible for all naval forces in the Gulf. Bahrain is a key strategic asset in the region because it directly faces Iran. "We are the Giant," a new documentary premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, looks at the situation in Bahrain through the lens of a prominent family of activists, the Alkhawajas. The well-known human rights attorney Abdulhadi Alkhawaja is serving a life sentence, while his outspoken daughter, Zainab, is also behind bars. We are joined by Maryam Alkhawaja, who currently serves as acting president the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, while living in forced exile.

  • Romantic Comedy "Obvious Child" Offers Groundbreaking Cinematic Take on Abortion

    Obvious_child

    The romantic comedy "Obvious Child" is one of the most talked-about films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival in Utah. The film stars former Saturday Night Live cast member Jenny Slate as Donna Stern, a Brooklyn comedian who speaks openly about sexuality and other taboo topics on stage. When Donna gets pregnant, she decides to have an abortion. While one in three women in the United States will have an abortion, the topic is rarely dealt with in films. "Obvious Child" has been hailed as the first romantic comedy about abortion, but it is much more than that. In a week that marks the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we are joined by director Gillian Robespierre.